The anger in Belarus over a tax on the unemployed and other supposed freeloaders can be justified through the absurdity of the law itself.
Belarus lags behind the other Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, both in its links with the EU and in its approximation to EU standards. However, despite a lack of formal contractual relations with the EU and illiberal domestic policies, Belarus still exposes some potential for Europeanization, explains Andrei Yeliseyeu.
Around half of all Schengen visas issued globally are issued in just three Eastern European states, i.e. Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. In 2015 around 15 million of legitimate travelers had to undergo lengthy, costly and cumbersome Schengen visa procedures. In their paper Andrei Yeliseyeu and Krzysztof Mrozek review the European Commission proposal to change the Schengen Area visa rules and explain the outcome of discussions on this document in the European Parliament and the Council.
After a decade-long story of failed attempts to start and proceed with the visa facilitation negotiations between the EU and Belarus, the long-awaited agreement was never closer to becoming a reality than on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga. However, it was put on hold again. Diplomatic passports security and disagreements over readmission are two remaining obstacles on the way towards EU-Belarus visa facilitation, explains Andrei Yeliseyeu.
What is the middle class in Belarus and what impact the aggravating economic crisis has on it? While national surveys show that about 75% of Belarusians consider their income as decent / average, the actual size of the Belarusian middle class may be as low as 10% of population, explains Aliaksandr Aleshka.